Jocelyn sounded defensive. “Amatis—”
“It’s been a long time, Jocelyn,” Amatis said. “If you don’t love him, you ought to let him go.”
Jocelyn was silent. Clary wished she could see her mother’s expression—did she look sad? Angry? Resigned?
Amatis gave a little gasp. “Unless—you do love him?”
“You do! You do!” There was a sharp sound, as if Amatis had clapped her hands together. “I knew you did! I always knew it!”
“It doesn’t matter.” Jocelyn sounded tired. “It wouldn’t be fair to Luke.”
“I don’t want to hear it.” There was a rustling noise, and Jocelyn made a sound of protest. Clary wondered if Amatis had actually grabbed hold of her mother. “If you love him, you go right now and tell him. Right now, before he goes to the Council.”
“But they want him to be their Council member! And he wants to—”
“All Lucian wants,” said Amatis firmly, “is you. You and Clary. That’s all he ever wanted. Now go.”
Before Clary had a chance to move, Jocelyn dashed out into the hallway. She headed toward the door—and saw Clary, flattened against the wall. Halting, she opened her mouth in surprise.
“Clary!” She sounded as if she was trying to make her voice bright and cheerful, and failing miserably. “I didn’t realize you were here.”
Clary stepped away from the wall, grabbed hold of the doorknob, and threw the door wide open. Bright sunlight poured into the hall. Jocelyn stood blinking in the harsh illumination, her eyes on her daughter.
“If you don’t go after Luke,” Clary said, enunciating very clearly, “I, personally, will kill you.”
For a moment Jocelyn looked astonished. Then she smiled. “Well,” she said, “if you put it like that.”
A moment later she was out of the house, hurrying down the canal path toward the Accords Hall. Clary shut the door behind her and leaned against it.
Amatis, emerging from the living room, darted past her to lean on the windowsill, glancing anxiously out through the pane. “Do you think she’ll catch him before he gets to the Hall?”
“My mom’s spent her whole life chasing me around,” Clary said. “She moves fast.”
Amatis glanced toward her and smiled. “Oh, that reminds me,” she said. “Jace stopped by to see you. I think he’s hoping to see you at the celebration tonight.”
“Is he?” Clary said thoughtfully. Might as well ask. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. “Amatis,” she said, and Luke’s sister turned away from the window, looking at her curiously.
“That silver dress of yours, in the trunk,” said Clary. “Can I borrow it?”
The streets were already beginning to fill with people as Clary walked back through the city toward the Lightwoods’ house. It was twilight, and the lights were beginning to go on, filling the air with a pale glow. Bunches of familiar-looking white flowers hung from baskets on the walls, filling the air with their spicy smells. Dark gold fire-runes burned on the doors of the houses she passed; the runes spoke of victory and rejoicing.
There were Shadowhunters out in the streets. None were wearing gear—they were in a variety of finery, from the modern to what bordered on historical costumery. It was an unusually warm night, so few people were wearing coats, but there were plenty of women in what looked to Clary like ball gowns, their full skirts sweeping the streets. A slim dark figure cut across the road ahead of her as she turned onto the Lightwoods’ street, and she saw that it was Raphael, hand in hand with a tall dark-haired woman in a red cocktail dress. He glanced over his shoulder and smiled at Clary, a smile that sent a little shiver over her, and she thought that it was true that there really was something alien about Downworlders sometimes, something alien and frightening. Perhaps it was just that everything that was frightening wasn’t necessarily also bad.
Although, she had her doubts about Raphael.
The front door of the Lightwoods’ house was open, and several of the family were already standing out on the pavement. Maryse and Robert Lightwood were there, chatting with two other adults; when they turned, Clary saw with slight surprise that it was the Penhallows, Aline’s parents. Maryse smiled at her past them; she was elegant in a dark blue silk suit, her hair tied back from her severe face with a thick silver band. She looked like Isabelle—so much so that Clary wanted to reach out and put a hand on her shoulder. Maryse still seemed so sad, even as she smiled, and Clary thought, She’s remembering Max, just like Isabelle was, and thinking how much he would have liked all this.
“Clary!” Isabelle bounded down the front steps, her dark hair flying behind her. She was wearing neither of the outfits she’d showed to Clary earlier, but an incredible gold satin dress that hugged her body like the closed petals of a flower. Her shoes were spiked sandals, and Clary remembered what Isabelle had once said about how she liked her heels, and laughed to herself. “You look fantastic.”
“Thanks.” Clary tugged a little self-consciously at the diaphanous material of the silver dress. It was probably the girliest thing she’d ever worn. It left her shoulders uncovered, and every time she felt the ends of her hair tickle the bare skin there, she had to quell the urge to hunt for a cardigan or hoodie to wrap herself in. “You too.”
Isabelle bent over to whisper in her ear. “Jace isn’t here.”
Clary pulled back. “Then where—?”
“Alec says he might be at the square, where the fireworks are going to be. I’m sorry—I have no idea what’s up with him.”
Clary shrugged, trying to hide her disappointment. “It’s okay.”
Alec and Aline tumbled out of the house after Isabelle, Aline in a bright red dress that made her hair look shockingly black. Alec had dressed like he usually did, in a sweater and dark pants, though Clary had to admit that at least the sweater didn’t appear to have any visible holes in it. He smiled at Clary, and she thought, with surprise, that actually he did look different. Lighter somehow, as if a weight were off his shoulders.
“I’ve never been to a celebration that had Downworlders at it before,” said Aline, looking nervously down the street, where a faerie girl whose long hair was braided with flowers—no, Clary thought, her hair was flowers, connected by delicate green tendrils—was plucking some of the white blossoms out of a hanging basket, looking at them thoughtfully, and eating them.
“You’ll love it,” Isabelle said. “They know how to party.” She waved good-bye to her parents and they set off toward the plaza, Clary still fighting the urge to cover the top half of her body by crossing her arms over her chest. The dress swirled out around her feet like smoke curling on the wind. She thought of the smoke that had risen over Alicante earlier that day, and shivered.
“Hey!” Isabelle said, and Clary looked up to see Simon and Maia coming toward them up the street. She hadn’t seen Simon for most of the day; he’d gone down to the Hall to observe the preliminary Council meeting because, he said, he was curious whom they’d choose to hold the vampires’ Council seat. Clary couldn’t imagine Maia wearing anything as girly as a dress, and indeed she was clad in low-slung camo pants and a black T-shirt that said CHOOSE YOUR WEAPON and had a design of dice under the words. It was a gamer tee, Clary thought, wondering if Maia was really a gamer or was wearing the T-shirt to impress Simon. If so, it was a good choice. “You heading back down to Angel Square?”
Maia and Simon acknowledged that they were, and they headed toward the Hall together in a companionable group. Simon dropped back to fall into step beside Clary, and they walked together in silence. It was good just to be close to Simon again—he had been the first person she’d wanted to see once she was back in Alicante. She’d hugged him very tightly, glad he was alive, and touched the Mark on his forehead.
“Did it save you?” she’d asked, desperate to hear that she hadn’t done what she had to him for no reason.
“It saved me,” was all he’d said in reply.
“I wish I could take it off you,” she’d said. “I wish I knew what might happen to you because of it.”
He’d taken hold of her wrist and drawn her hand gently back down to her side. “We’ll wait,” he’d said. “And we’ll see.”
She’d been watching him closely, but she had to admit that the Mark didn’t seem to be affecting him in any visible way. He seemed just as he always had. Just like Simon. Only he’d taken to brushing his hair slightly differently, to cover the Mark; if you didn’t already know it was there, you’d never guess.
“How was the meeting?” Clary asked him now, giving him a once-over to see if he’d dressed up for the celebration. He hadn’t, but she hardly blamed him—the jeans and T-shirt he had on were all he had to wear. “Who’d they choose?”
“Not Raphael,” Simon said, sounding as if he was pleased about it. “Some other vampire. He had a pretentious name. Nightshade or something.”
“You know, they asked me if I wanted to draw the symbol of the New Council,” Clary said. “It’s an honor. I said I’d do it. It’s going to have the rune of the Council surrounded by the symbols of the four Downworlder families. A moon for the werewolves, and I was thinking a four-leaf clover for the faeries. A spell book for the warlocks. But I can’t think of anything for the vampires.”
“How about a fang?” Simon suggested. “Maybe dripping blood.” He bared his teeth.
“Thank you,” Clary said. “That’s very helpful.”
“I’m glad they asked you,” Simon said, more seriously. “You deserve the honor. You deserve a medal, really, for what you did. The Alliance rune and everything.”
Clary shrugged. “I don’t know. I mean, the battle barely went on for ten minutes, after all that. I don’t know how much I helped.”
“I was in that battle, Clary,” Simon said. “It may have been about ten minutes long, but it was the worst ten minutes of my life. And I don’t really want to talk about it. But I will say that even in that ten minutes, there would have been a lot more death if it hadn’t been for you. Besides, the battle was only part of it. If you hadn’t done what you did, there would be no New Council. We would be Shadowhunters and Downworlders, hating each other, instead of Shadowhunters and Downworlders, going to a party together.”
Clary felt a lump rising in her throat and stared straight ahead, willing herself not to tear up. “Thanks, Simon.” She hesitated, so briefly that no one who wasn’t Simon would have noticed it. But he did.
“What’s wrong?” he asked her.
“I’m just wondering what we do when we get back home,” she said. “I mean, I know Magnus took care of your mom so she hasn’t been freaking out that you’re gone, but—school. We’ve missed a ton of it. And I don’t even know …”
“You’re not going back,” Simon said quietly. “You think I don’t know that? You’re a Shadowhunter now. You’ll finish up your education at the Institute.”
“And what about you? You’re a vampire. Are you just going to go back to high school?”
“Yeah,” Simon said, surprising her. “I am. I want a normal life, as much as I can have one. I want high school, and college, and all of that.”
She squeezed his hand. “Then you should have it.” She smiled up at him. “Of course, everyone’s going to freak out when you show up at school.”
“Because you’re so much hotter now than when you left.” She shrugged. “It’s true. Must be a vampire thing.”
Simon looked baffled. “I’m hotter now?”
“Sure you are. I mean, look at those two. They’re both totally into you.” She pointed to a few feet in front of them, where Isabelle and Maia had moved to walk side by side, their heads bent together.
Simon looked up ahead at the girls. Clary could almost swear he was blushing. “Are they? Sometimes they get together and whisper and stare at me. I have no idea what it’s about.”
“Sure you don’t.” Clary grinned. “Poor you, you have two cute girls vying for your love. Your life is hard.”
“Fine. You tell me which one to choose, then.”
“No way. That’s on you.” She lowered her voice again. “Look, you can date whoever you want and I will totally support you. I am all about support. Support is my middle name.”
“So that’s why you never told me your middle name. I figured it was something embarrassing.”
Clary ignored this. “But just promise me something, okay? I know how girls get. I know how they hate their boyfriends having a best friend who’s a girl. Just promise me you won’t cut me out of your life totally. That we can still hang out sometimes.”
“Sometimes?” Simon shook his head. “Clary, you’re crazy.”
Her heart sank. “You mean …”
“I mean that I would never date a girl who insisted that I cut you out of my life. It’s non-negotiable. You want a piece of all this fabulousness?” He gestured at himself. “Well, my best friend comes along with it. I wouldn’t cut you out of my life, Clary, any more than I would cut off my right hand and give it to someone as a Valentine’s Day gift.”
“Gross,” said Clary. “Must you?”
He grinned. “I must.”
Angel Square was almost unrecognizable. The Hall glowed white at the far end of the plaza, partly obscured by an elaborate forest of huge trees that had sprung up in the center of the square. They were clearly the product of magic—although, Clary thought, remembering Magnus’s ability to whisk furniture and cups of coffee across Manhattan at the blink of an eye, maybe they were real, if transplanted. The trees rose nearly to the height of the demon towers, their silvery trunks wrapped with ribbons, colored lights caught in the whispering green nets of their branches. The square smelled of white flowers, smoke, and leaves. All around its edges were placed tables and long benches, and groups of Shadowhunters and Downworlders crowded around them, laughing and drinking and talking. Yet despite the laughter, there was a somberness mixed with the air of celebration—a present sorrow side by side with joy.